The Gold Glove Awards have been announced over the past two days and Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have won their third and second, respectively. In my last post I stated who I should get the award in each league. Four of my nine American League guesses were right (Erick Aybar was robbed though) and I missed on two of the nine National League spots. I was debating on whether or not to put Freddy Sanchez or Orlando Hudson at second and I chose Sanchez because Hudson lost his job at the end of the season.
But, nice work Vic and Jimmy. These two guys do a really nice job in the field and come up with some spectacular plays here and there but their biggest strength in the field is that neither make mistakes. Victorino was tied for the league lead in least centerfield errors with only one and Rollins lead all National League shortstops in fielding percentage.
And each everyday Phillies starter has a decent glove which is one of the best parts about watching this team. Ryan Howard, perhaps the weakest glove, really stepped it up this season and didn’t commit as many errors (and I think he had the most “web gem” points for a first basemen too). But when you go around the field and look at each guy, there’s really no mystery out there as to whether or not they’ll make a play.
Carlos Ruiz is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. I think he may have had only one passed ball all year long and if it weren’t for the likes of Yadier Molina in the NL, Carlos might be winning these Rawlings awards. Chase Utley is also one of the best at fielding his position and he is one of the most heads up fielders in the league as well. Pedro Feliz has one of the more solid gloves and stronger arms in the league from the hot corner (and I’d like him to be back next year in some ways, just for his glove). Raul Ibanez has a decent arm out in left and if it weren’t for injuries this past season, his range could have been better. Then I think Jayson Werth has one of the most underrated arms in the league and well as good range with those long strides.
Congrats again to all the Gold Glove winners.
AND this is my 100th entry. I’ve been off and on writing on this over the past year and at times I forget that I have this thing. So thanks to the few that may read this junk.
Just as things were starting to look down for the Phils, I took a look at the team calender and I saw four games against the Nats on deck. Now, of course, initially I said we need to sweep the Nats and then realized that four game sweeps are rare, even against the worst team in Major League Baseball.
After the Phils lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers last Thursday (the game I happened to be at), they found themselves back at .500 and finishing up the homestand at 2-6. Ouch. That’s awful. They needed a rebound and the Nationals couldn’t have come at a better point. They are the type of team that the Phils need to take care of. They did.
But break out the brooms. Four games in three days were no problem for the Fightins who took care of business this weekend against Washington. Apparently the heavy load was no problem for Raul Ibanez either.
Here’s Raul’s series:
Friday: 4-6, 2 RBI, 3 R
Saturday (Game 1): 3-5, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 HR
Saturday (Game 2): 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR
Sunday: Okay, lets not include today’s game (0-4)
But through the first three games of the series Ibanez was 9-for-14 with nine RBIs, seven runs scored, and three homers. He can flat out hit and he’s an instant hit here in Philly.
I want to touch on two other things.
1) New look lineup?
2) Rotation changes
First, the lineup. With a struggling Shane Victorino, Charlie’s slid him down to the six spot and has put Raul in the three spot. Here’s how the lineup has looked over the past couple of games:
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
CF Shane Victorino
3B Pedro Feliz
C Carlos Ruiz
The bolded players are the ones who have been moved around. With the doubleheader and certain players getting some breaks, I have to wonder if this lineup is here to stay for now. Raul is undoubtedly our best hitter right now, which merits the three spot (although I do like Utley in the three spot). Victorino never seems like he’s a two hitter but he certainly has the speed for the top of the lineup. I’m fine with him at six as well though. I like the change, for now.
Pertaining to the rotation, I thought Chan Ho Park really showed us that he’s supposed to be in this rotation in his last two starts (I think 12 IP with 2 ER). But today he gave me another reason to want him out of the rotation. He went an inning and a third surrendering five earned runs while walking four Nats.
Enough of this, I want JA Happ in this rotation. I think that Park will fit our bullpen nicely as he did in LA’s ‘pen last season. A good long relief man not named Jack Taschner (no offense Trashner, the ERA under four is nice, but I’m a nervous wreck everytime you’re in). Here’s how I think the rotation should shape up:
Tuesday at Cincinnati — Jamie Moyer
Wednesday at Cincinnati — Joe Blanton
Thursday at Cincinnati — Cole Hamels
Friday at the Yanks — Brett Myers
Saturday at the Yanks — JA Happ
This is a tough situation because this has Cole Hamels pitching a week after he last pitched but nothings perfect.
Well, I’m not sure if that’s said correctly at all, but I’m trying to say Happy Hit Parade, and be corny playing off of Pedro Feliz’s last name. Funny, I know.
But Pedro Feliz did have a nice night, he went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored and an opposite field homer, his first of the season. It’s nice to see the guys break out the bats, something they’ve been doing well all season thus far. Along with Feliz’s three hits; Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Chris Coste all chipped in two hits a piece. Chase Utley was also on base four times last night.
Jamie Moyer pitched the usual Jamie Moyer way. As I’ve said earlier, expect six innings, three or four runs, and a couple strikeouts and walks when he leaves the game. He did it again, going into the seventh while surrenduring four runs.
Those four runs came off the bat of Ryan Braun, who homered twice off Moyer. Speaking of hit parade, Braun went 5-for-5 with the two homeruns, apparently, he sees Moyer well. He ended up raising his season average to .300. He’s the only Brewer other than Mike Cameron to have that mark on the year thus far. The Brewers, as a team this year, are hitting .231–ouch. Only the Diamondbacks and Reds can say worse in the National League.
If Joe Blanton continues to pitch like he has in the regular season so far, the Brewers will be raising their team average tonight. Blanton has surrendered ten earned runs in two starts so far this season, something he needs to improve on.
The Phils are going up against Braden Looper, who went five and six innings in his first two starts, respectively. He’s holding 3.27 ERA so far. I imagine if he gets into a jam against these hit-happy Phils tonight, the bullpen may enter the game earlier than expected for the Brewers.
Getting into a rythm is the factor here, and I think that once the pitchers start to get on a normal schedule, the starting pitching will improve. Hey, we’re .500 now and technically second place in the NL East after JJ Putz blew up in St. Louis last night.
The keys this early in the season are to keep the bats hot and to get into a rythm.
The Phillies offense did something tonight they hadn’t done all season, hit. Here are three guys I’m glad to see finding their swing:
[4 Games] Before Tonight: 2-for-15, 1 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 3-for-5, 2 R
Before Tonight: 3-for-16, 2 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 2-for-4, 1 R, 3 RBI
Before Tonight: 2-for-10
The two-spot through six-spot hitters (Victorino, Chase Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez) combined to go 10-for-22 with 7 runs scored and 7 RBIs. I was happy to see these guys starting to play. I think that it comes down to getting away from all the “championship buzz.” Whether they accept that or not, I think that’s the true reason they’ve been struggling. They usually get off to a rough start and I’m happy to see that they’re seeing the ball better. It is just one game though, we’ll see how they do the next few games where they’ll be facing Aaron Cook tomorrow in Denver and Daniel Cabrera on Monday while in Washington.
While in DC, they’ll be visiting the President of our country. More reigning champions talk could affect them but I hope it doesn’t. I guess we’ll find out if my theory is correct on their struggles.
PARK TO START FIRST GAME IN RED PINSTRIPES
Tomorrow, Chan Ho Park will start his first game for the Phils. He won the fifth starters spot in spring training over JA Happ and now must show everyone why they picked him. He’s determined to have this job and keep it.
It would also be nice to see a quality start out of Park after our first five games where starting pitchers have allowed 4 ER in 6 IP (Brett Myers), 4 ER in 5 IP (Jamie Moyer), 7 ER in 4 IP (Joe Blanton), 7 ER in 3.2 IP (Cole Hamels), and tonight 4 ER in 7 IP (Myers). The best start of the year has been Myers start tonight but it would be nice to see a starter allowing under four runs in seven (what pitchers are supposed to pitch).
BRING THAT LOU KID UP
Lou Marson has been called up to the big team. I’m glad to hear that our catcher of the future is joining the team. It’s expected that Chris Coste and Marson will share time behind the plate. So Marson will get his at-bats because it’s said that Coste is more effective when he only plays a few times a week. This news comes on the heels of Carlos Ruiz being placed on the 15-Day DL. I don’t want to see chooch on the DL, and he doesn’t want to be on the DL. But I can’t help but saying that maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe Marson will show that he’s ready to play everyday this year and I am hoping that despite how much I love Ruiz behind the dish.
Marson did have a bad, bad spring. In 14 games, he went 1-for-20 with three walks. But I wouldn’t take that small sample and use that to judge the kid. In Double-A Reading last year, Marson batted .314 with a .433 OBP and an .849 OPS.
Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies
Projected MLB Rank: 3rd — NL Rank: 2nd — NL East Rank: 1st — Record: (95-67)
National League East Champions
The hometown team. Coming off an unbelievable World Series run and one of the most memorable Octobers of my lifetime, I truly believe, as a baseball fan, this team has the chance to do something special.
It starts with their leader and leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins. Having down numbers and an injury last year didn’t help his cause to repeat as MVP but it doesn’t matter because he is the rock on this team. He holds us together at short and gives us every chance to drive him home. Then there’s the fire behind this team, Shane Victorino. He is a winner. He hit .293 last season and stole 36 bases. His play in the outfield is unreal and I once heard a scout say that he gets the best jump on the ball that he’s ever seen when it comes off the bat.
Then comes the middle of the order. Coming off hip surgery, Chase Utley could lead many to believe during the spring that he didn’t have any type of problem with his hip and didn’t have surgery. That’s how quickly he’s rebounded from the surgery. With the injury last season, he hit .292 with 33 homeruns and 104 RBIs. Imagine what he will be able to do healthy. After Utley is the big man. Ryan Howard may whiff a bunch, but the production he puts up cancels it out. He hit 48 homeruns and drove in 146 runs to lead the league last season. In my opinion, he was MVP. There’s a blog about it in my archives if you want to hear my argument.
There’s no longer Pat Burrell, sadly enough. He lead the parade though, how fitting. But Raul Ibanez is an upgrade. He hit .293 last season while driving home 110 runs. Jayson Werth may get a chance to bat fifth in this order to break up all the lefthanded bats. He had a great season last year batting .273 with 24 homeruns while slugging .498. Pedro Feliz, also coming off of surgery, should get back to 20-homer form this season as he should hopefully stay healthy and Carlos Ruiz showed flashes of skill at the plate during the postseason so I’m hoping he doesn’t bat .219 again this year.
The rotation starts with Cole Hamels. NLCS MVP. World Series MVP. He’s got a hot wife. I know you’ve all seen him everywhere this offseason, especially when he had his “injury.” He’s a drama queen, but a drama queen that can pitch better than the rest of them. Expect more than 14 wins this year for Young King Cole because hopefully he doesn’t keep both offenses silent everytime he toes the rubber again.
Brett Myers is a roller coaster. I want nothing more than for this guy to have a great year. But you never know. Last year he was sent down to AAA to rediscover himself after a dreadful start. Then he came back and threw the heck out of the ball. He ended up somewhat salvaging his ERA and record when he came back up to the big leagues. I want the dominating Brett this year. Righthander Joe Blanton came over from the A’s last season and saved his season as well. He started the year as the A’s ace last season, so he’s certainly got the potential (and we saw it in the playoffs).
The ageless wonder. Jamie Moyer. The Souderton product had a career year in 2008 posting a 3.71 ERA and lead the team in wins with 16. Let’s see if he can do it again, I believe in him. Chan Ho Park won the fifth starters spot with an amazing spring. His fastball is up in the midnineties now and he’s striking out hitters at a good rate. If he can keep up what he’s doing in the regular season, he’s one of the best fifth starters in the league.
Then there’s the bullpen. Ryan Madson is a legitimate setup man. He turned his game to the next level last season, even reaching the high nineties with his fastball. Lefty Scott Eyre will certainly get a lot of work in while JC Romero is out under suspension. Eyre did an awesome job coming out of the bullpen after he came over in the trade from the Cubs. They also traded for Jack Taschner, but I’m also hoping JA Happ makes the bullpen as well. The question for me is whether Chad Durbin can recreate his 2.87 ERA and Clay Condrey his 3.26 ERA.
Then there’s Brad Lidge. Lights Out.